The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

  • #26 on the New York Times Best Seller List
    and featured on The Colbert Report, Martha Stewart,, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose Tomorrow, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR stations coast to coast. Also selected for Borders Original Voices and Book Sense. Follow me on Twitter! Fan me on Facebook.

  • « | Home | »

    Breathing easier. The manuscript does not suck.

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | June 27, 2007

    I got an e-mail from my editor, Jon Karp, which was a great relief. It looks like the book revisions are not going to take too long, and are not going to be too much of a structural overhaul, which means we can get it to the copyeditors by August 1 (which is apparently key because it takes two months to make advanced reader copies (ARCs) and you want to have ARCs out to readers about five months before the book comes out I am also surprised that he and Nate Gray (Karp’s assistant) took the time to line-edit the manuscript. But those 400 pages are floating somewhere between their office and messenger world and me. (they have not yet appeared)

    Dear Jenny,

    I am so impressed by the liveliness and wit of your writing, the depth of your reporting, and the sweep of your storytelling. Your work is outstanding. Readers are going to marvel at your ability to investigate this subject in so many interesting ways. It will be a wonderful book.

    Nate and I have both (separately) been line editing the manuscript assiduously. You’ll receive two versions of the first 200 pages via messenger today; the rest by the end of the week.

    Because you were so great about nailing down the structural issues at the outset, I’m pretty sure the story is developing and unfolding well. I’ll know for sure when I’m done editing. At the moment, the only major question Nate and I have is whether readers will understand the specific nature of your fortune cookie quest. It’s not clear whether it’s the powerball mystery or the origins. I’m not sure it matters. It’s all so entertaining and interesting.

    What you most need to do is cut and chisel. We’ve told you exactly where to do it. There are a lot of extraneous descriptions here: of what people are wearing, how they look, where you’re traveling, how you get there. A lot of the conversational digressions can go. All of this is common to first drafts, especially by first-time authors, so none of it surprises me. What pleases me is how clever your observations are and how amusing you are throughout the manuscript. Once you’ve tightened up and polished the prose, this should read like a winner. So that’s my great exhortation to you: Tighten and polish!

    When I’m done editing and you’ve had a chance to review the entire manuscript, we can talk in greater detail. Until then, I hope you will enjoy the sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph attention that Nate and I have lavished upon you.

    All my best,


    Now we line-edit. Off to Australia on Friday.

    Topics: Book Musings | No Comments »

    Comments are closed.